Monday, October 29, 2018

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Hi, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Sarah McCoy's Marilla of Green Gables, a prequel to the L.M. Montgomery classic!

Here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

The Marilla we meet in Anne of Green Gables is tough and seemingly hard hearted. She doesn't want Anne, they need help and she's set on a boy. But as that story moves forward, we come to know and love Marilla, seeing that it's not meanness but practicality and toughness. And yet, we don't really know anything about her childhood or exactly how she came to be a spinster living with her brother caring for him and the family farm. McCoy's book aims to address that!

We meet her here at 13. Her mother is very pregnant and Izzy, the aunt Marilla has never met, is arriving to help with the birth. And what a shock that is - Izzy is Marilla's mother's twin and no one ever told her! What's more, Izzy lives on her own in the city - no kids and no husband - running her own business. Marilla is in awe but is also wary of the new woman in her life. 

And then tragedy strikes and young Marilla's mother dies in childbirth. And everything in Marilla's life changes. 

I love that the idea for this novel came from the line in Anne's story where Marilla, in passing, mentions that John Blythe was once her beau. It's a line that's always stuck out to me as well and made me wonder exactly what twists and turns Marilla's life took along the way. As such, I quite enjoyed McCoy's version of her past. I will admit, though, that considering the fact that I'm nearing the end of my own pregnancy, this one a bit tough to read at the start. 

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here

For more on Sarah McCoy and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

The Boneless Mercies trade in death. But Frey and her three companions are tired of the killing. They're tired of being alone. They want more from life than this. 

When they hear of a beast killing relentlessly nearby - a creature even the finest warriors haven't been able to defeat - they set off in search of adventure and glory. For who better to battle a monster than someone who specializes in death? 

But their travels aren't easy and they are faced with challenges and tasks along the way that will test them in body and spirit.

Talk about a book hangover! April Genevieve Tucholke's latest is a gender flipped Beowulf that kept me turning pages during the wee hours (yes, thank you, insomnia) and left me wanting more after I'd turned the final page!

The interesting thing about Boneless Mercies is that it's not exactly a plot-driven story. Aspects of it are almost like The Canterbury Tales in a way: the four characters tell their own tales as they travel from where they begin to where they end up. So in that sense it's many stories within an overarching narrative.

The girls begin with a death and a decision: this kill is to be their last. They're young, amongst the youngest of the Boneless Mercies since the job hasn't drawn many others their age. Those that it has enticed have also been leaving of late to join another group our heroines come into contact with along the way. But they're trained and this is how they earn money. The alternative holds no appeal, which is why the Blue Vee Beast catches their attention. If they succeed, the reward is guaranteed to be enough to allow them to live free of mercy killing and other industries that draw those desperate for coin.

The world is steeped in Norse mythology with the classic sagas and, as mentioned, Beowulf, as its bones, but Tucholke definitely twisted those and made something new and unique in her tale beyond even our four female warriors. I adored it and absolutely everything about it and I hope beyond all hope that we're able to return to this world somewhere down the line!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

The reports varied - they were supposed to have more time, their home would be under water for sure, their home would be safe after all...In the end, it didn't matter. She was in the hospital giving birth when the floodwaters came and their home, with it's newly decorated nursery, was no more.

So the new family - father, mother, and son - took refuge in the country. And then in a shelter. Before long, even that base had to be abandoned, leaving the still nursing mom to travel to safety alone with her son. All her efforts are in protecting and nurturing him. All her resources and her self are given over to him.

Survival is her only focus.

The End We Start From is short and spare - almost, and just barely not, a story in verse.

Characters are referred to by letters only: Z, R, etc. And the story is basic as bones in terms of overall narrative. There's a flood, it's cause is environmental, the family loses everything. What's not spare is the emotion given over to the story. And maybe even that is in actuality spare but considering I'm nearing the end of a pregnancy as we speak I couldn't help but feel the raw emotion while reading. The fear and the desperation as well as the love and determination in caring for and ensuring that the infant Z survives no matter what. That his life is affected as little as possible by something that has turned his family's lives upside down.

The End We Start From is short enough to read in one sitting but will stick with you long after.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis

Happy Thursday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Marjorie Herrera Lewis's When the Men Were Gone.

It's 1944 and Brownwood, Texas, a town all about football, is without a high school coach. With so much bad news, including the fact that most of the town's men over 18 are off fighting the war, football provides a bit of good cheer everyone can use. 

Tylene Wilson has been a fan of the game as long as she can remember and knows just as much about it as any man in town. And so she volunteers to coach. But what should be a godsend gets a fair bit of opposition throughout Brownwood. In spite of it all, Tylene sticks to her guns and eventually finds that the team rallies around her. Overcoming massive odds, it turns out most of the town does as well. 

When the Men Were Gone isn't all about football. In fact, you don't even have to be a football fan to enjoy the book (I consider myself a fan of concessions and junk food but not football, for example). But it is a lot about football, admittedly.

And yet, what I found most fascinating about the book is that it's based on a true story. You can read about the real Tylene in the book itself - the author, a former sports writer who dealt with a lot of the same attitudes Tylene does in spite of the fact that over 40 years had passed, includes a piece on the inspiration behind the book and how she first heard about Tylene. And like Tylene, the author went on to coach as well!

When the Men Were Gone is a slim read, easy to dive into and finish in one sitting. It's perfect for anyone looking for an inspirational feel good story!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Marjorie Herrera Lewis and her work you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele + a Giveaway

I've admitted time and again now that I'm a sucker for anything Rebecca inspired, and when I first stumbled upon mention of Lisa Gabriele's The Winters, I had to get my hands on a copy!

She's just a lowly worker at a resort in the Caymans when Max Winter arrives. And in spite of her boss's urgings, she can't help but fall for the man. Theirs is a quick and passionate courtship that culminates in a proposal just weeks after it all began, leaving her breathless with excitement and anticipation. But her arrival at Asherly, the Winter estate, is overshadowed by whispered stories of the famous Rebekah, Max's first wife. 

Dani, Max and Rebekah's teenage daughter, makes no bones about the fact that she's displeased to meet daddy's new girlfriend. But it's more than that. Can she ever live up to the expectations and comparisons of the mysterious Rebekah? Does she want to?

This modern-day twist on the classic Rebecca begins much the same as its predecessor. The unnamed narrator is working for an older woman when she meets the dashing Mr. Winter. In this case, Mr. Winter is a politician and the older woman runs a boating company that previously employed both our narrator and our narrator's father, who died owing money to his boss. The narrator has taken over repaying that debt.

Max Winter arrives and it's clear that he's to be catered to no matter what. And then the owner is called away and Winter insists our narrator be the one and only employee to tend to his needs. Which gets her in trouble with her boss, sort of.

And of course she can't resist the dashing Max Winter. He wines and dines her before admitting to paying off her debt and asking her to be his wife. But not before she's heard of Rebekah. And not before she's researched her on the internet and decided she can in no way compare to the former mistress of Asherly.

And it's with that doubt already niggling at the back of her mind that she agrees to become the new Mrs. Winter and leave behind the tropics for the life of a politician's wife at the Winter estate.

There are some twists to the tale. And of course the modern trappings of the internet and such. At heart, though, it's a recognizable tale and a great homage to one of my favorites of all time!

The Winters is out today but you can enter to win your very own copy here. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter before Monday, October 30. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 14, 2018

New Releases 10/16/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

New on DVD:
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Unfriended: Dark Web

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

November Road by Lou Berney

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Lou Berney's latest, November Road. 

Frank Guidry is a trusted part of the Marcello crime family. If a job needs doing, Frank gets it done. But Frank's latest job is destined to be his last thanks to circumstances beyond his control. Kennedy has just been assassinated and Frank has enough pieces to know that Marcello himself is behind it. So when Frank is asked to head to Houston to drop a car, he's well aware that he won't be coming back. 

Opting to stay alive rather than the alternative, Frank decides to run. But to do that, he needs to evade Marcello's connections long enough to get out of the country. When he runs into a single mom and her two kids, he thinks he may have found the perfect cover. He just didn't plan to fall for the woman. 

Charlotte has had it with her husband's drinking. Her life isn't the one she'd imagined and it's not what she wants for her daughters either. And so, she finally gets the courage to leave and head west. But her car has other ideas when it spins out on the road, stranding her little family in a tiny New Mexico town. And when a stranger offers help, she's just desperate enough to take it. 

Lou Berney's latest is an example of excellent storytelling! Set in 1963, in the days just after Kennedy's assassination, it's a story of crime and love. It's also a story of starting over.

Frank is a Cajun boy who's happy with his life in New Orleans. He has a fancy apartment, fancy clothes, and power. All things he's gained working for a local mob boss. The job has given him all the things he never had growing up but control isn't one of them. And so when he becomes an inconvenience, he's out.

Charlotte has tried and tried to make it work at home but has finally come to the realization that it'll never be enough. If she wants change, she's going to have to be the one to make it. This includes both her marriage and her career, neither of which are going anywhere in the small Oklahoma town she calls home.

They meet through coincidence but Frank's own scheming brings them together. The story moves fast, as is the case with all of Berney's books. It made for great entertainment during the wee hours as I fight insomnia in these last weeks of pregnancy, that's for sure!

I loved Frank and Charlotte. As I mentioned, Frank is a Cajun boy and I appreciated that little detail as a fellow Cajun. (And was glad Berney did it well.) Plus, even though he's not a great guy as outlined by his job and his actions in the beginning of the book, he is basically a decent guy who's put himself in a bad situation. In other words, it's easy to sympathize with him and want to follow his story. Charlotte is quite likable, as is her family, so she's a given one you want to get behind. Together, they drive the story and the reader's desire to see exactly how that story will play out.

Another excellent outing from Berney!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Lou Berney and his work you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, October 7, 2018

New Releases 10/9/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

November Road by Lou Berney

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

The Waiter by Matias Faldbakken

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly

No Sleep Till Doomsday by Lauence Macnaughton

In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levson, et al

New on DVD:
Eighth Grade
Hotel Artemis
Hotel Transylvania 3

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Murder on Millionaire's Row by Erin Lindsey - Excerpt and Giveaway

Hi, everyone! Today I have a super fun excerpt and giveaway for all of you - Erin Lindsey's debut historical mystery, Murder on Millionaire's Row.

Before we dive in, here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

Rose Gallagher might dream of bigger things, but she’s content enough with her life as a housemaid. After all, it’s not every girl from Five Points who gets to spend her days in a posh Fifth Avenue brownstone, even if only to sweep its floors. But all that changes on the day her boss, Mr. Thomas Wiltshire, disappears. Rose is certain Mr. Wiltshire is in trouble, but the police treat his disappearance as nothing more than the whims of a rich young man behaving badly. Meanwhile, the friend who reported him missing is suspiciously unhelpful. With nowhere left to turn, Rose takes it upon herself to find her handsome young employer.

The investigation takes her from the marble palaces of Fifth Avenue to the sordid streets of Five Points. When a ghostly apparition accosts her on the street, Rose begins to realize that the world around her isn’t at all as it seems—and her place in it is about to change forever.

This is to be the first in a new series and features some of my favorite things: ghosts and Pinkertons!

And now for a little taste:

Murder on Millionaire's Row
by Erin Lindsey

Chapter 1


As I tell you this story, I'll thank you to remember that I was young and in love. That's not an excuse, but if you're looking to understand what happened on that day in January 1886—what really happened, mind you, not the version you read in Harper's Weekly or The New York Tribune—then you ought to have the whole picture. So yes, i was nineteen years old, and yes, I had a blinding crush on my employer, one Mr. Thomas Wiltshire of 726 Fifth Avenue, and those facts together led me to make certain choices in those early hours, choices that might charitably be called naive. Some of the actions I took I'm not particularly proud of. But I wouldn't take a one of them back, either—which is saying a lot, considering how near they came to getting me killed. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I really ought to start at the beginning, which means I should say a little about where I'm from. If you're from around here, then you know that in New York, where you come from is everything. It defines your place in the world—your past, present, even your future if you let it. Why, just your name and address tell a stranger pretty much everything he cares to know about you. Not just where you live, but how: what parish you belong to, how much money you've got, where your people came from before they were Americans. He can even make a fair guess as to what you do for a living. Your name and address label you as a certain type of New Yorker, a creature with particular habits and distinctive plumage, not unlike a species of bird. Black-capped chickadee. Northern mockingbird. Italian fruit vendor. Chinese laundryman. So when I say that my name is Rose Gallagher of 55 Mott Street, well that's a whole story right there, and a common one at that. The story of an Irish girl from Five Points. 

What do those words conjure in your head? A photograph of some fair-haired, reedy thing leaning out of a tenement window to hang washing on the line while drunks and ragpickers loiter in the alley below? Well, you wouldn't be far from the mark. But there' more to me than that slip of a girl, just as there's more to Five Points than the vice and violence you read about in the papers. Oh. it's a wretched enough corner of the world, to be sure, but it's home. And it's where I learned that if you don't take care of you and yours, there's nobody else will do it for you. 

Which brings me back to the day Mr. Thomas Wiltshire disappeared, and everything I knew in the world went spinning down the drain. 

Murder on Millionaire's Row is new out on shelves this week! 

And now for the giveaway. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 15. Open US/Canada only. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

Happy Tuesday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Gretchen Anthony's debut, Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners.

Every year Violet Baumgartner carefully pens a letter outlining the achievements and goings on in the Baumgartner family. And this most recent year was a doozy! Ready to announce the extravagant party for her husband's retirement, Violet could never have predicted exactly how that event would turn out. In its aftermath, she struggles to maintain control and a facade of calm but six months later that's proved to be almost impossible. 

A midwestern family saga filled with warmth, humor, and more than a little awkwardness, Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners proved to be the perfect book for me to gobble up in the midst of what's been a truly hectic few weeks!

The book begins in June with police and bounces back to Violet's penning of the annual holiday letter just before the previous Christmas. Narrators include Violet herself, who's preoccupied with both her husband's retirement party and the charity gift drive she's running for her church; Violet's daughter, Cerise, who's got a surprise she's waiting to spring after the party; and Richard, the newly laid off husband of one of Violet's friends.

Through their eyes, the six months leading up to the start of the book play out, building the drama and humor every step of the way. And amongst the narration are missives and letters from the Baumgartners's past, illustrating the family happenings and accomplishments throughout the years.

I thought this was a truly fun read perfect for anyone craving a little bit of feel good this fall!

Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners doesn't officially hit shelves until October 16, but trust me, this is one you want to snatch up just as soon as you can!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Gretchen Anthony and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol

Good morning, readers! It's October 1 and I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Peter Gadol's The Stranger Game.

It's been over two months since Rebecca heard from her ex, Ezra. Even though they're separated they've never gone this long without speaking. And when Rebecca turned up at Ezra's apartment, his landlord said he'd missed his rent, so she knows something's up. 

The police don't seem terribly worried, though. In fact, when they find out he'd been playing the stranger game, they're even less worried. 

The game, designed under the auspices of connecting people in this disconnected digital world, intrigues Rebecca and she begins to play herself, following strangers and abiding, mostly, by the rules laid out online. But as she continues to play, she finds the game has become something more and the people who are playing aren't necessarily interested in the rules at all. 

I expected much more of a thriller out this one based on the description.

And it is a thriller, in a way. But it's also much more of a literary slow burn and a social commentary.

It's also creepy from the very start - the idea that there are people out there randomly selecting strangers to follow. It seems innocent in the beginning. They're not supposed to interact at all. They're never supposed to follow the same person more than once. And the game appeals to Rebecca especially because she's already had plenty of experience imagining the lives of those around her, something the game allows her to expound upon even more.

And you can't tell me, readers, that the thought of someone randomly stalking you - even innocently - doesn't scare the ever living pants off of you! You can see the appeal and the thriller aspect, then.

But the idea that the game is supposed to connect people in a time when everyone is so obviously not connecting does also kind of force you to think about the current atmosphere. And it's almost as uncomfortable a feeling as the idea someone might be watching you!

The Stranger Game is an odd read, but one that is undeniably hard to put down and hard to shake once you've finished.

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Peter Gadol and his work you can visit his website here.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble